Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has become the first Chamber in more than 20 years to be awarded a licence to issue ATA Carnets and the first in Scotland to deliver the service digitally.

An international customs document which allows goods to travel duty and tax free across countries for up to one year, a Carnet provides an alternative to the time-consuming task of completing customs documents for each country goods are passing through. It provides a guarantee to overseas officials that if temporarily admitted items are not re-exported, duties will be paid.

The Chamber helped North-east firms export goods worth in excess of $873m (USD) to more than 115 countries around the world last year. With customs arrangements coming to the fore for many organisations in 2020, the Chamber took the decision to undertake the rigorous licence application to further increase its support services for local business.

Used for non-perishable goods, the documentation eliminates the need for a customs declaration at border points and the deposit of a guarantee, bond, or cash deposit in the country of temporary importation. It can also be used for trips covering more than one country and include numerous exits and re-entries in the country of origin during the period of validity of the document.

There are currently 76 countries which have signed the appropriate convention and are able to operate the scheme.

Lorraine Neish, export documentation leader at the Chamber, said: “The North-east is a strong, internationally-focused region thanks in part to our energy and agriculture industries but also the growing digital, tourism and life sciences sectors and having the right customs documentation is vital to ensure goods get to where they are going with minimal fuss and cost.

“In becoming the first Chamber in 23 years to be awarded the licence to issue them, we will be able to help reduce costs and red tape; and increase efficiency for the many, many businesses across the North-east who are trading internationally.”

The licence allows the Chamber to deliver the service online, adding additional benefits for local firms and was granted by London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the national guaranteeing organisation for ATA carnets in the UK. It represents the UK at the World ATA Carnet Council and is ultimately responsible for all Carnets issued from the UK.